The race for the 2018 Ballon d’Or is no doubt one of the toughest to predict in recent memory.
For the last decade, the highest individual accolade on offer in football has been dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
The last ten instalments have been evenly split between the pair, with the likes of Neymar, Antoine Griezmann and Andres Iniesta virtually just making up the numbers in the three-man shortlist.
Although yet to be officially announced, a reported leak by French journalist Eric Mamruth claims Luka Modric, Raphael Varane and Kylian Mbappe will contest the 2018 award.
It makes sense that Messi and Ronaldo aren’t at the forefront of the conversation this time around - and the situation has generated plenty of debate about who’s most worthy of ending their supremacy.
Xavi - a player who made the final trio three years running between 2009 and 2012 - has analysed the field to determine his favourite for the prize.
Likely for the first time in a long while, though, the 38-year-old has seen fit to overlook his former colleague Messi.
"Why not Modric?" Xavi told Spanish radio network Cadena SER, per Marca.
"He has won three Champions Leagues in the last three years and was a World Cup finalist. It'd also be fair.
The Nou Camp legend also insisted several members of the France national team should be considered after ending their World Cup drought at Russia 2018.
"The fairest decision would be to give it to a French player because the World Cup means a lot,” he added.
"We all complained in 2010 because a Spaniard didn't get it. We need to be fair now. The World Cup is the most important thing.
“If you look at their team then Antoine Griezmann was the star. People talk about Raphael Varane, but if you look at France then you see Griezmann or Kylian Mbappe.”
Xavi neglected to mention Neymar among his predicted candidates - and there seems to be a clear reason for it.
When asked for his take on reports of the Brazilian making an audacious return to Catalonia, the veteran midfielder said no while citing a need to improve the psychological aspect of his game in order to reach the top.
"To me, he is a top footballer. If he gets going and matures and works hard then he'll be close to Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi,” he said.
"He is a leader on the pitch and is capable of being decisive and relevant, but it depends on him. He has all the talent, but if he doesn't have the mentality..."News Now - Sport News